How to choose a funeral venue

Pembroke Lodge, white building with columns by front door and green hedges.

Three minute read

Did you know that you can hold a funeral almost anywhere? It doesn’t have to be in a crematorium or a chapel and no special licence is needed. We’ve arranged funerals at a wide variety of different venues — from boats to barns, pubs to private gardens.

These alternative funeral venues are often chosen because they have a special meaning for the person who has died, or for their friends and family.

Find some of our favourite alternative venues listed here.

However, there are some practical questions to ask before you decide on your funeral venue. Here are some things to bear in mind, based on our experience organising hundreds of funerals.

1. How does the venue reflect the person who has died?

This is the most important question and it’s a great place to start your thinking. You could choose a favourite restaurant or pub which the person went to regularly; a place that they loved to visit or where a significant event took place; or even their own home or the home of a family member or friend.

2. What kind of feel do you want the ceremony to have?

Is it formal or informal? Intimate or grand? Serious or celebratory? Or somewhere in between?

Think about the tone of the ceremony you would like to create, and this will help you work out what sort of venue you need. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Try to find somewhere you feel comfortable, so that you can focus on the meaning of the ceremony, instead of feeling like you have to be on your best behaviour.

At Poppy’s, we have our own on-site Friends and Family room where you can visit someone in our care. It’s also a place where you can hold an intimate and informal ceremony during a visit if that is something which feels right for you.

Find out more about visiting someone at Poppy’s

3. What is your budget?

When you ask about venue costs, remember to think about time to set up and clear away. Will you need this extra time and, if so, how much will it cost?

4. What equipment does the venue have?

Do they have a sound system, microphones, speakers or a screen to project images on to, if you need them? If not, can you bring your own?

5. How easy is the venue for your guests to access?

Is there enough parking or good public transport links? If you’re trying to have a more environmentally conscious funeral, you could consider asking people to car share. Is there enough space for everyone? Is the venue suitable for any older people, disabled people or young children coming to the funeral?

6. How will the venue accommodate the coffin?

Is the venue on the ground floor with enough space for the coffin to be carried in safely, and with a place for it to stand during the ceremony? At Poppy’s, we always take responsibility for the safety of the coffin during entry and exit. Venue staff do not have to get involved or do anything additional to their normal jobs.

Sadly, some venues, like pubs and restaurants, may not allow a coffin on the premises, so it's important to check when you first enquire about making a booking. However, some venues may agree, once they understand more about what’s involved and realise how important it is to you.

It’s also perfectly possible to have a memorial event without the coffin present, for example if you have had a simple cremation or a direct cremation.

7. Can you look around the venue before the ceremony?

This is crucial, even if you are using a place that you already know very well. Taking time to look around the space before the funeral, will help you know if it’s right for you, and also identify any practical issues or concerns before the day itself.

If this feels like a lot to think about, don’t worry, your funeral director or celebrant are there to help. They will have visited dozens of venues, and can come up with ideas for venues that will be the right fit for you.

At Poppy’s, we always love to be asked for ideas. When we’re planning a funeral with you, if you give us a steer of what you’re looking for, we’re happy to investigate venues on your behalf and to help with all the logistics. Contact us to find out more.

Find more ‘how to’ guides on our blog — from how to carry and lower a coffin to how to choose a funeral celebrant.

To stay in touch with all the latest news and updates from Poppy's by email, sign up here or contact us if you need help planning a funeral.

Image above of Pembroke Lodge, Richmond.

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